Belfast Telegraph

FTSE 100 makes minimal gains as commodity stocks struggle

The FTSE 100 eked out minimal gains on Wednesday as commodity stocks sank and disappointing results from Hargreaves Lansdown weighed on the market.

London's top tier index closed relatively flat, up 2.6 points at 7,188.82.

Investors were reacting to data pointing to rising crude stockpiles in the US, which threaten to counteract Opec supply cuts meant to buoy oil prices.

BP shares fell 1.15p to 455.95p while Royal Dutch Shell's 'B' shares were one of the worst performers down 40.5p to 2,208.5p.

Markets were also digesting news that Shell has submitted detailed plans to decommission its Brent oil and gas fields in the North Sea to the UK Government.

The field has produced the equivalent of nearly three billion barrels of oil - almost 10% of UK production - since it began operating in 1976.

The FTSE 100 was also dragged lower by Hargreaves Lansdown shares which fell 22p to 1,364p despite reporting a surge in half-year pre-tax profits to £131 million following a 51% jump in client-driven share deals in the wake of the Brexit vote.

However, the Bristol-based investment supermarket warned that the frenzy may not last.

"The extent to which this elevated dealing level is a short term effect or a newly sustainable level is unknown, however, elevated levels of trading continue with no sign of material reduction six months on from the Brexit vote," Hargreaves Lansdown chief executive Ian Gorham said.

Sterling made gains against the US dollar in afternoon trading, rising nearly 0.3% to 1.253.

Against the euro, the pound was flat at 1.170.

Across Europe, the French CAC 40 rose 0.26% while the German Dax was flat.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose 1% to 55.24 US dollars per barrel (£44.09), as data pointing to falling US gasoline stocks offset news of rising crude stockpiles.

In UK stocks, GlaxoSmithKline shares were flat at 1,562.5p. The pharma giant revealed a 36% rise in underlying operating profits in 2016, thanks in part to a boost from the Brexit-hit pound, but warned of a potential hit from looming competition to its blockbuster asthma drug.

Redrow shares rose 18p to 470.5p as the housebuilder posted a 23% rise in half-year revenues to £739 million, saying it saw "very little impact" from the Brexit vote.

Shares in Dunelm Group fell 61.5p to 623p after the homewares retailer warned that customers will face further price hikes as it battles to maintain profit margins in the face of the Brexit-induced collapse of the pound.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Capita up 16.7p to 514.4p, Persimmon up 59p to 2,016p, Rolls-Royce Holdings up 19.5p to 720p, and Reckitt Benckiser Group up 178p to 7,287p.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were BHP Billiton down 47p to 1,341.5p, Glencore down 5.75p to 312.1p, Royal Dutch Shell's 'B' shares down 40.5p to 2,208.5p, and London Stock Exchange Group down 55p to 3,084p.